Despite a backdrop of chirping birds, the students were rapt with attention, inspired by an enthusiastic guest teacher, Matt Lebon, owner of Custom Foodscaping who came to help them envision the next steps of their outdoor project. And I was watching, feeling awe about the learning experience before me.
When I was in school, we, too, learned to plant and grow seeds. Our teachers purchased materials, prepared the pots, told us to place the seeds and followed care instructions. This was different.
Mirowitz students are integrating science (the path of the sun), math (budgeting, square footage, depth, planting), engineering solutions (managing water and deer), art (aesthetic garden design) and spirituality (research on how connecting with the earth helps anxiety and depression.) They study texts that describe our Jewish responsibility to the land and to each other.
And their guest teacher shared that he was inspired to do this work by hiking Israel’s Yam L’Yam trail, working on kibbutz, and learning about our responsibility in tikkun.
We begin each middle school year with a trip designed to help our students think about global issues, important ideas, and the power they have as humans to make a positive impact. This year’s theme has been the environment.
Since their fall trip, the students have been envisioning the garden area and working to make it a tikkun space, where they are helping to repair the earth and help food plants fulfill their mission.
Our outdoor spaces help us learn through personal discovery. Students get their hands in the earth and see projects from start to finish. This week, they celebrated that their winter planting of garlic and rye produced a healthy crop, and they transplanted romaine lettuce (seeded in the hydroponic wall in the science lab over the winter) into the beds. In preparation for Passover, parsley is growing in their hydroponic wall, and horseradish is growing in containers. And soon, they will be ready to harvest and deliver produce to the Jewish Food Pantry.
We often say “On 3 things Mirowitz stands: academic excellence, Jewish learning and social responsibility.” This project involves all three!
It is just one reason our student grow up to be the well-rounded, capable, creative leaders we need for our future.